Here’s a hearty howdy to y’all. It’s been nearly two years since I’ve written because life got busy. In retrospect, it was a good outcome, and I was able to focus sharply on myself. I’ve lived 70 active years on this planet, at least 60 of them in denial. It’s been four years since starting transition, most of that time on HRT; over two years since going fulltime. I wanted to share some things I’ve learned.
LESSON 1) Nobody could have prepared me for what transition would be like. For years, I read, did research, observed, asked, and explored what it would be like to live my true life. I spoke with counselors, exchanged letters and emails with other women, and later, watched everything I could find on the internet. I got a fair idea of what needed to be done, and where to find help, and in understanding some of the experiences of other girls. I listened to their highs and lows, tribulations, and successes. As I made my choices, all that research paled in comparison to my actual experience. I learned that this is my life, to be lived on my terms, with outcomes and experiences that are exclusively mine. I must do this on my own. Even though I have the support, help, and encouragement of loved ones and others, this is my adventure.
LESSON 2) It’s damn hard being a woman! Gone are the days of 15 minutes from bed to shower, to quickly dressed, and on to work. Yesterday’s jeans just won’t do. Oh my gosh, everything should be just right. That ornery wisp of hair has to stay in place. Heavens forbid that the skirt slit is slightly off center. Shoot, I chipped a nail! Gotta turn these blouses inside out before washing. Tweezing, conditioning, filing, moisturizing, lip gloss, a missing earring, makeup remover, cotton balls, and don’t forget to exfoliate. An eight am appointment; up at 5:30 and hope I have enough time. At the end of the day, when it’s time to let my hair down, it takes another forever to get ready for bed. I learned that taking care of myself is its own reward and worth every second spent.
LESSON 3) Nobody really notices. I have been from coast to coast since transitioning. I’ve flown or driven to Vegas, LA, Boston, Cape Canaveral, Atlanta, Memphis, Dallas, and OKC. I have been to conferences, shows, parties, restaurants, motels, airports, and Wal-Mart. In all this, I’ve met many folks, had a lot of fun, and thoroughly enjoyed life to the fullest. I think it’s remarkable that I’ve not had a bad experience (knocks on wood.) I’m not misgendered, I’m not scorned, and nobody has ever scooted away from me in. I’m not beautiful, nor do I have a femme frame. I don’t go around broadcasting that I’m trans. I just be me, and I’m no longer nervous or anxious about it. I swear, nobody really cares.
LESSON 4) I’m more than a survivor. I love to chat with the folks here at TGH. We are so full of joy and gladness, as well as hurt and doubt. We have stories going back to the beginning of our lives. Each of us had to make some really difficult decisions about who we are. I suspect most of us have coped with anxiety, depression, or other social and emotional problems that were never asked for. In my situation, I have a choice to make. I can either regret the 60-plus years that I remained “deep in the closet,” or I can enjoy here and now with hopeful anticipation toward the future. I now understand that those 60 years were not a waste. I was not really hidden. I wasn’t ready to transition. I had too much to learn; I had to grow. The guy that came before me learned these things for me. I can’t articulate the things I needed, but in hindsight, I see that the time was well spent. It made me capable of transitioning when I did, not before. I have not just survived, I blossomed, and I continue to bloom. I choose to enjoy life!
Lesson 5) Popeye’s Mantra is true. And therein lies freedom; freedom from secrets, from pretending, from withholding an integral part of me from friends and loved ones, from fear. I simply can’t express how much richer life has become since I freed myself from those toxic thoughts and feelings. I am okay—more than okay. I love myself without restraint. I learned that I now love others more than I once thought possible. I learned that life gave me exactly the right skills and mindset to make this transition, and by gosh, I’m doing it. After all, “I am what I am, and that’s all that I am.” And that’s enough.
I don’t know why I finished this article; I just had the urge to resurrect it from its dormancy. Maybe, it’s because sharing these thoughts is good for my soul, giving someone else a bit of hope and strength. Maybe it’s because so many of you have shared your lives in chat, and this is my effort to pay it forward. It doesn’t matter; whatever the reason, here it is.
I hope some of you can relate.
Until next time…
More Articles by Carly Holloway
- Do I Pass?
- Strength — integrate and differentiate (Pt. 2)
- What happened in Vegas
- A new Direction, a new Life
- Integrate and Differentiate